The UT-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros came into San Antonio on Tuesday evening ranked inconspicuously at No. 139 on the NCAA baseball ratings percentage index.
But with Bryan Sturges hitting two of the visitors’ six home runs, and with J.C. Ariza pitching six scoreless innings, the Vaqueros proved to be much better than the RPI indicated, routing the No. 44 UTSA Roadrunners, 12-1.
For Sturges, it was a sweet homecoming of sorts. He played in 73 games at UTSA over two seasons from 2019 to 2020. Sturges, from Houston Seven Lakes, played at Texas A&M last season. Against the Roadrunners, he went three for four and drove in four runs.
Ariza, a 6-foot-5 righthander from Belleville, N.J., allowed only two hits. He walked one and struck out five.
Sturges hit his first homer in the fourth inning, a two-run shot, and he added a solo blast in the ninth. It was one of three Vaqueros home runs in the inning.
Brandon Pimentel, Chris Mondesi, Jacob Sanchez and Isaac Lopez also homered for the Vaqueros, a Western Athletic Conference team based in Edinburg, Texas.
Coming off a Conference USA weekend road trip to Middle Tennnessee, the Roadrunners couldn’t get the bats going.
They managed only four hits on the night and avoided getting shut out when Jonathan Tapia hit an RBI double down the line in the eighth inning.
The Vaqueros exploded in the ninth for five runs on homers by Sanchez, Sturges and Lopez. The blow by Lopez off Reese Easterling was a three-run shot and accounted for the final score.
UTSA’s last two games have been something of a mystery.
Going into Sunday at Middle Tennesee, they had won 17 out of 20, a stretch in which they scored 195 runs on a .324 batting average. In losing Sunday and again on Tuesday, they have been limited to two runs while hitting just .131.
UTSA 30-15, 14-7 in Conference USA
UT-Rio Grande Valley 27-18, 12-9 in the Western Athletic Conference
A three-game, C-USA series
Friday — Marshall at UTSA, 6 p.m.
Saturday — Marshall at UTSA, 2 p.m.
Sunday — Marshall at UTSA, 11:30 a.m.